Trail Facility Upgrades Underway at Horseshoe Bend

20 years ago, if you asked most Page, Arizona residents where Horseshoe Bend was, the majority of them – present company included – wouldn’t have known what you were talking about. Those who did know probably would have pulled you aside and instructed you, in hushed tones usually reserved for covert ops, to head South on US89 to mile marker 545. There, you would have found a small parking lot and a non-descript trail that led to what was, at the time, the Lake Powell area’s best-kept secret: an unbelievable 270° hairpin curve, carved into Navajo sandstone by the artist forever known as the Colorado River. There was no fence or railing to obstruct your jaw-dropping view of this “incised meander.” Chances are, you would have had the place to yourselves for the better part of the day to enjoy the silence and the occasional squawk of a raven, or the rustle of the river coursing 700’ below you on its way to the Grand Canyon.  That was then. This is now. The secret got out about Horseshoe Bend, as secrets tend to do. Only this one got out big, and it got out fast. Now, visitation numbers in the thousands, and that’s not monthly or weekly – that’s daily. The result? Traffic jams, parking nightmares, fragile vegetation getting squashed by illegal parking and trail blazing, pedestrian bottlenecks, restroom lines and overflowing trash bins. Perhaps the most troublesome issue, however, was the skyrocketing number of 9-1-1 calls coming in to Page, Arizona EMS and the National Park Service for heat-related emergencies in the summertime. In 2017 alone, there were over 100 such calls. Sadly, one proved fatal. Something needed to be done to improve accessibility and safety at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. It was long past time. In the latter half of 2017, construction got underway on some much-needed improvements to Horseshoe Bend Overlook. The National Park Service and the City of Page would work together to correct some of the more pressing challenges affecting this now-iconic viewpoint, such as:
  • Expansion of the parking area, including designated parking spaces for buses and RV’s
  • Construction of a larger shade pavilion and level viewing platform, including a partial railing
  • Grading of a lower-elevation route to the overlook for ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliance
  • Restroom upgrades
  • Increased trash receptacles
At present, the first phase of construction is expected to be completed by spring of 2018. A second phase, including a visitor center, water fountains and entrance fee collection station, may come online in the foreseeable future – note, we said “may,” not “will.”  Naturally, more than a few people cried “foul” over the proposed “taming” of this once-wild location. Indeed, one of many things that first attracted a lot of people – present company included – to this part of the country was the dearth of warning signs, fences and other accouterments of civilization designed to save lives at all costs. But as you can hopefully see in these recent photos of the construction in progress, the fenced area is actually a fraction of the whole overlook. If you don’t like the fence, all you have to do is walk 50’ in either direction. Just don’t fall in. As a recent observers aptly put, “it’s right where it needs to be, and 99% of the rim will remain unfenced.” Another consideration: Horseshoe Bend is technically within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, a Federal Fee Area, and as such, is required to bring as many of its facilities as possible in compliance with the ADA. That is certain to be a welcome change for visitors who previously resigned themselves to not being able to make the walk (although flying over Horseshoe Bend remains a viable option for those individuals and their families). The best part? Ongoing construction has in no way impeded access to the overlook for those who want to experience the Horseshoe Bend Overlook on their forthcoming Lake Powell and Grand Canyon vacations. Stay tuned for future updates on this work in progress!    

38 Responses

  1. Hey there any update on the completion date on the paved trail? We aren’t coming until April 2020 but we are trying to plan out the trip with kids and we’re hoping there was an update. Thanks!

    ~Sabeen

    1. Hi Sabeen,
      At this time, according to the City of Page, “the ADA Trail is partially completed. The 2nd part, or lower-half of the trail near the overlook, is finished, however the National Parks Service is still working on the completion of the 1st part of our trail. Please keep in mind that until the entire trail is completed, strollers, wheelchairs or individuals requiring mobility assistance may have difficulties due to the incline and deep sands.”
      The outlook is cautiously optimistic that the trail should be completed by the start of next year’s tourist season (and your visit), but for the most timely updates, we recommend monitoring the City of Page’s official website (linked above) or their Facebook page.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I’m a manual-wheelchair user and I’m going to visit Page within a month. Can You please give me some info about the trail to the Horseshoe Bend? I know the platform on the viewpoint is completed but there is a super-soft sand trail to reach the platform. I think I could get into troubles in this regard. Is the paved trail under construction yet?
    Thank You
    Andrea,
    Genova – Italy

    1. Hi Andrea,
      My latest information indicates that the wheelchair-accessible trail is still under construction and is not expected to be finished until October. In addition, one of the local tour companies that accesses the overlook via a different entrance with a shorter walk cannot accommodate wheelchairs.
      So sorry to be the bearer of bad news 🙁 If you find the situation to be different, please let us know how you get on.
      Alley

      1. Dear Alley,

        Thank you for your reply. Can you please tell me one of these local tour companies for the horseshoe track? I can write them and look for accommodation somehow for my wheelchair.
        Thank you
        Andrea

        1. Hi again Andrea,
          Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours is, at present, the only local tour operator that goes to Horseshoe Bend. Their contact information is as follows:
          Post mail: 821 US Highway 89, Page, AZ 86040
          Phone: (435) 275-4594
          E-mail: [email protected]
          Hope you find what you’re looking for,
          Alley

      2. Is the wheelchair accessible trail complete? Your comment said October 2019 was expected date. We came from California to see it and would love to be able to see the view! Also what time does the park open?

        1. Dear Ms. Martin,
          Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the ADA trail is still under construction. For more information on alternatives to get to the overlook without all the walking, read “Help! I Can’t Do The Hike To Horseshoe Bend.”
          Horseshoe Bend Overlook is open between sunrise and sunset.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  3. Hi I just want to know whether the horseshoe bend safety railing has been completed? Also I am planning to go there in June with a 2 year old, so would like to know if I can take her in a wagon or an umbrella stroller? Also there is information online about a accessible trail construction, has anything of that sort been done? Would really appreciate any help

    1. Hi Therese, and thank you for your visit.
      The “safety railing” is actually around a small viewing platform situated off to the side of the main overlook, and it is finished. However, it only encompasses a small portion of Horseshoe Bend’s total real estate. The “money shot” — i.e., the straight-on view — remains unfenced, along with the majority of the rim around the overlook.
      When the construction projects are complete, a paved, ADA-compliant trail will be amongst the improvements, so you should be fine taking your child in a wagon or stroller.
      Have fun!
      Alley 🙂

      1. is the trail construction completed, I am planning to visit early next with a wheelchair. will that work? if not looks like only option to skip this as I will have kids 3 and 6 year old. Thanks

        1. Hi Shailendra,
          Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news, but the ADA trail has yet to be completed. At the moment, it is scheduled for completion in October.
          The only way I can see you working Horseshoe Bend into your trip at this juncture is by flying over it in a fixed wing airplane or helicopter. If you need assistance getting into the aircraft, however, you would need to make advance arrangements.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  4. Is Horseshoe bend part of the National Park Service? Will Glen Canyon National Park be issuing the entrance fee that is to go in effect? Will National Park passes be accepted?

    1. Hi Holly,
      Horseshoe Bend is indeed part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so when entrance fees are implemented, the National Park Service will be collecting them. If you have a National Park pass, that will grant you access to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook.
      Hope that helps,
      Alley 🙂

    2. Holly,
      Thanks for all of your hard work providing information about the viewing area. We are planning a trip there in April of this year, and like many others I am not thrilled about getting right on the edge of the rim for photos. Are tripods allowed on the viewing deck? I don’t want to impede on others, especially those with mobility issues, but would really like to get some good shots of the bend.

      1. Hi Jim,
        You are welcome to bring tripods onto the viewing platform, but be ready to share it with others who have the same idea. Because of the popularity of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook with photographers, sunrise is the best time to be there to take advantage of cooler temperatures and fewer people. In April, sunrise takes place at approximately 5:45 AM.
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

  5. Has the government shutdown affected accessability to Horseshoe Bend? We’re planning a visit from Phoenix on Saturday Dec. 29.

    1. Hello John,
      The State of Arizona has allocated funds to keep many National Parks and other public lands open. Happily, Horseshoe Bend is among them. Come on up and enjoy!
      Alley 🙂

  6. They should not increase the trash bins as a matter of fact they should eliminate them and educate and force people to take the trash with them ! It’s less work for the already busy rangers. And punish those that trash the place !

    1. Hi Camilo,
      We feel your pain on this issue, trust us, it drives us just as crazy as it does you to see people throwing their trash wherever they feel like it at Horseshoe Bend. Unfortunately, attempting to prosecute all who litter would keep the rangers and local police a lot more overworked than they already are, plus would be a logistical and legal nightmare since the offenders invariably come from all over the world. Believe you me, they’ve given this issue a lot of thought!
      Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  7. Hello there,
    I am planning a visit with my wife to Arizona in march 2019. We are from Holland and my wifd is cofined to a lttle electric scooter. Will she be able to reach the viewing platform.?

    1. Hi Herman!
      The paved trail is expected to be complete by spring of 2019, but factors like weather, labor availability, and other unexpected difficulties could delay the project. I would suggest monitoring the Facebook page for the City of Page, AZ or the official site of the local radio station, LakePowellLife.com They are fairly consistent about posting updates on the construction.
      Hope that helps and that you are looking forward to your visit!
      Alley 🙂

  8. Hi Alley, what a great website. With the new railing that has been put up can you get a good picture of the Horseshoe from there? I realise it’s not front on which is where most are taken from…but I’m petrified of heights and love the thought of a railing! Otherwise I may have to do what I have seen pictures of others doing, lie down and creep forward (which still scares me)!
    I’m not coming over until June next year, but just having fun planning everything.

    1. Hey Sarah,
      Great question!
      The enclosed viewing platform is, as you’ve correctly deduced, located off to the side of the overlook. The “money” shot – the straight on view – is still unencumbered. If your fear of heights is that bad, unfortunately, you’ll only be able to get a partial shot of river and the ‘bend from the platform. If you’re not opposed to taking things on “all fours” to get a better photo, Lord knows there’s no law against that, and you’d be no means be alone in doing so.
      Hope that helps. By the way, KUDOS for planning your trip well in advance. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
      Alley 🙂

  9. I have a fear of high places. Even have a fear of seeing others close to the edge of high places. We will be in Page in early October. Will the platform with railing be in place by then? Thanks for any comments re: others who have a fear of heights and how they have managed a visit to HB. THANKS!

    1. Hi Dick,
      You are definitely not alone in having a fear of heights, and a desire to see Horseshoe Bend. The viewing platform with railings has been completed, however, you should know it is off to the side of the “money shot” — the straight on view of the river — and many people end up going up to the edge anyway. With proper respect for the inherent danger, and precautions taken accordingly, you should be fine.
      Good luck and thank you for visiting our site today!
      Alley 🙂

  10. We are going there for bridals this weekend. Is there a spot to go that won’t have a fence in the background? Sorry I’m trying to figure it out from the google map but can’t tell.

    1. Hi Macey –
      If you’re referring to Horseshoe Bend, the fenced section will only encompass a small portion of the overlook, but that’s not the issue that concerns me. What concerns me is that you must might need a Special Use Permit from the National Park Service to do bridal photos at Horseshoe Bend. If you don’t have one, it might be too late to get one. Visit Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Special Use Permits for more information.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  11. Is there a paved trail yet? I need to know if I can go with my wheelchair. Even packed dirt is fine, but I can’t seem to find what the progress is on the construction.

    1. Dear Alison,
      Hello and thank you for your inquiry. The paved trail phase of the project is still in progress, so you might have some difficulty getting to the overlook in a wheelchair. If you are unable to hike to Horseshoe Bend, you might consider another means of seeing it, namely flying over it. Fixed wing airplane and helicopter tours depart daily from the Page Municipal Airport, usually first thing in the morning. For more information, visit Horseshoe Bend Helicopter Tours or Horseshoe Bend Airplane Tours.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  12. A man walked backwards a few steps toward the rim. My daughter was standing about 3 feet from it looking at the Bend. His backpack pushed against her backpack. My husband calmly grabbed my daughter before it was too late. God protected me from seeing that or I would have went berserk. Who walks backward toward the rim! Idiot. I fell in love with Page and the Dine’

    1. Hi Deborah,
      I am SO sorry to hear about your close call at Horseshoe Bend! If only the trail upgrades in progress could ensure that people think before they act… God was indeed looking after your family. We’re glad you enjoyed the area and hope this little bit of unpleasantness won’t deter you from returning to the area.
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

  13. We are working on planning our first trip out west and we do have a family member that needs the assistance of a motor scooter. She can walk just not long distances or rough terrain, not disabled just elderly. Is the lower ADA access complete yet? Would that be a viable option with her needs?

  14. Not thrilled!! I will be there in about a week, as I plan on taking a friend to see it. I have been there many times in the last couple of decades and have seen some major changes over the area. But, this may be the limit. I understand they whys and needs, but am sorry that it had to happen. I hope to enjoy this trip as much as the many others!!

    1. Dear Marian,
      We weren’t, as you put it, “thrilled” either. As longtime residents of Page, AZ, we remember the days when Horseshoe Bend was a well-kept local secret, but thanks to social media, that isn’t the case anymore. We also agreed that this had to be done due to the rising popularity of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, and the increase in the number of 9-1-1 calls for heat-related emergencies in the summertime, as well as the need to accommodate visitors with wheelchairs and other mobility issues. As part of the National Recreation Area, the overlook was overdue for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
      For what it’s worth, the viewing platform is situated off to the side of the overlook, and the safety railing only encompasses a small percentage of its total “real estate.”
      https://horseshoebend.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Google-Earth-HBO-David-Rankin.jpg
      If you don’t like the fence, all you have to do is walk a few meters away from it and you’re back to seeing Horseshoe Bend in its natural state. Also, the “money shot,” i.e., the “straight on” view of the ‘bend, remains as it was.
      We, too, hope you enjoy this trip as much as you have many others.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  15. I wonder if they will add a hot dog stand, a zip line across the gorge, or maybe an escalator down to the bottom? Sad Day Indeed!

    1. Hi Willie,
      Trust us, we really do feel your pain on this. This decision was a bittersweet one for those of us who remember the days when we could visit Horseshoe Bend and have the place all to ourselves, all day long. Guess we have Instagram to thank for that no longer being the case.
      As for the “hot dog stand, the escalator and zip line,” those are non-starters. Grand Canyon West has a zipline, though.
      Another thing: the viewing platform and railing will only take up a small portion of the overlook, off to the side. Check out this Google Earth rendering of the platform in comparison with the surrounding area. https://horseshoebend.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Google-Earth-HBO-David-Rankin.jpg If you don’t like the fence, just walk a few meters in either direction. The “money shot” – the ‘straight on,’ unfettered perspective of Horseshoe Bend – will still be there.
      Take care,
      Alley

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